The gym, a PT, Bootcamp?! Where should I go?!

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So, come January, or even during the year, the gym seems to be THE place to go when you’ve decided to lose a few pounds or get in shape?!

That’s fair enough…….most others go there, or talk about it. They have nice shiny equipment, people to take you through an induction, you see others sweating (occasionally!), using the shiny equipment, grunting and groaning, looking good, reading a book on some of the equipment, TV’s on, nice air conditioning…….”yeah……this is where I need to be!” you think!


But, as you so often hear, the gym has a shelf life for many, of about 2 months, which can be a real pain when some gym’s tie you into a 12 month contract, or often people stop going, continue paying, and then cancel their direct debit about 5 months later!


So why does this happen?


One of the biggest reasons is you get ZERO nutritional advice or plans.

If you follow myself or other PT’s on twitter you’ll find that most of the tips and info given relates to food…….this will be a clue! I’d said 75-80% of all results are down to food intake, both quantity and quality, but you get no pointers, or minimal at a gym.

I’m really not sure why this is…..maybe it’s because it will generate too many questions that the staff can’t answer from the paying members, but whatever, it’s a pretty poor show.


ANYONE can get fit. If you move a bit more than you usually do, you’re getting fitter – your body is pumping more blood around the body and you’re muscles are using this, and functioning more than normal. This is fine, but if you really want to change your body shape, you need to be addressing what is eaten along with effective workouts.


Sure people lose weight, bodyshape changes intially when they attend the gym, but as I said above, this is because they are suddenly doing something they, and their bodies aren’t accustomed to, and the body has to react and change. Great! A few pounds down in the first week!

However, if you continue with the same gym programme, the same intensity during the workouts, after a few weeks your body is going to get used to that, it won’t need to expend as much energy or calories to cope with it and results will dry up.

For some, results are very slow, even when they stick with the gym for 6 months plus.

The reason…………



Yep, people do things that don’t challenge them!

Walking on a treadmill…..this should be a daily occurrence, not something you choose to get fitter, or to push yourself!

Reading a book, or magazine, or watching TV while riding a bike.

Doing 60 minutes on the cross trainer, and getting off in pretty much the same state as you were when you got on!


You need to be raising your body temperature, moving your body in different ways, using as many muscles as possible if you want to change it!

We’re talking bodyweight movements like;

Squats, lunges, pressups, jumping, twisting

Free weight exercises like dumbells and kettlebells, and after a few weeks of using weights that challenge you around the 15-20 rep mark, start to increase the weight so you are starting to be challenges around 12-15 reps

Certainly stear clear of the nice shiny weights machines. Why?

Well they move in a fixed range of movement, which our limbs don’t!

Take for example the shoulder press machine, you sit down… push the arms up and down, moving at exactly the same angle each time you push it.

Compare this with lifting a heavy box up onto a shelf at home……it’s not going to move in the same lines as the above. It’s going to wobble, left, right, overhead etc. If you use the fixed range machines too often, you’ll only work specific muscles in THAT particular movement pattern or range. So when you come to lift the box like the above, chances are you could cause an injury because you havent trained the muscles in an unstable environment that you would ger by pushing dumbells overhead etc etc

The other thing you REALLY need to think about is this;

Most people are sat down from the moment they get up. Breakfast, train or car to work, sit down at work, at lunch, get in the car, get to the gym, and…………… sit down on the bike, or weights machines!!! No wonder people have bad backs, hunched over posture and bot bellys! Everyone is shrinking!!! Stand UP, reach, twist, make yourself longer and leaner!!!

Cardio wise, look to perform short, sharp intervals. Rather than going through the motions on the rower for 20mins. Set it up for 200metres, row flat out, rest for 40 secs and go again, 5 times. Then you’ll know you’ve pushed yourself!

The other side of negligible results is the lack of motivation or accountability. After a hard days work, pushing yourself for a tough workout isn’t a high priority for many! Try finding a gym buddy, or friend if you are going to signup, and put in your diaries your gym workouts so you can go together. This way you are letting your friend down, rather than just yourself! Just ensure the session doesn’t turn into a chat sessions!


If the above is firing off lightbulbs in your head, then do something different!

Gyms can work for people, if you’re motivated, have a good workout plan and ability to push yourself, a good goal or plan of action, and a sound nutrition plan at home.

But if you don’t, or you want something different, then maybe look into something that DOES provide the missing elements, the nutrition advice and plans, the motivation, the support and the results!

Bootcamps can be a good option, providing a cheaper way to a Personal Trainer, and nowadays there are quite a few online programmes and groups, just make sure you stick with whatever you do, and give it a good try, knowing you’re committed  and ready to make a change!

Gym classes Lots of people enjoy classes due to the fact your in a big group and it’s a sociable, enjoyable session. Whilst I agree with this aspect unfortunately it’s really not much different to a gym environment as there’s no “after session” support of nutrition and advice etc. They are good “fillers”, but in my opinion, shouldn’t be the bulk of your workout week.

Bootcamps really hit the scene a few years back, and lots of PT’s jumped on the bandwagon, so obviously some will be good, some won’t be! Similar to Personal Training below you’re looking for the same research. Ask for a free trial or even a free week, it’s in the trainers interest to let you try if you’re going to sign up, and equally you can then see how the session is run, how is the banter, who turns up, do they enjoy it, how are their results? Chat around the bootcampers!

Some bootcamps employ military style sessions and themes, again this works for some people, but not others! I personally run mine, knowing people have had a busy day at work and want a laugh alongside working out hard and getting results, so I bring chat, banter and humour to our tough sessions.

Again, a good bootcamp should have a nutrition plan in place, and not just be emulating a gym class where it’s a “see you next week” mentality.


If you’re considering hiring a Personal Trainer some of the key things to check or ask are;

– RESULTS! This is what you want so you want to see what the trainer has done in the past and currently, and don’t just settle for some written testimonials! You want pictures of transformations – anyone can write a few words, but as they say “The camera doesn’t lie!” Even go a step further and ask for contact details or past/current clients. Any good trainer shouldn’t mind or hide these details, then ask the client about sessions, results, enjoyment factor etc

– A good nutrition plan and structure. I’ve seen plenty of PT’s who just train clients. This will NOT work in the long run for results. Here is why

– Continued development. Surely you want to invest your money with a trainer who continues to invest in themselves?! If you’re working with a trainer who just trains client after client without reading books on nutrition, hormones, mindset etc, or spends money on courses which will progress them as a trainer, what are you going to get?! Likely a trainer!!!! Whilst this sounds like what you want, you don’t really! You want someone who is going to improve you, your life and your body, not a trainer who has gone stale, and just churns out a workout after workout with no additional information that will help you or your health to progress.

– Equally beware the trainer that can “fit you in no problem” – like a builder if they say they’re not busy, you need to wonder why!

– Ask for a free consultation or meet initially where you can talk and discuss how the food side will work, sessions will be structured and what you’d expect to achieve in a 6-8 week period.

Remember you’ll be spending time with the trainer, and trusting them to improve your life – if you don’t feel inspired or confident with them, it’s not likely to happen!


Good luck, plan, work hard and stay committed!


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